Weekend media wrap-up

This weekend, I saw two movies: Breach, the Ryan Phillipe/Chris Cooper/Laura Linney film about Robert Hanssen. It was… OK. I didn’t leave feeling in love with it; I didn’t leave feeling I’d wasted my time. There were funny moments, there were some dark moments, but mostly it had all of the problems that I think movies like this always have. “Movies like this,” I mean movies that are based on true stories but really only built from a single point of view. I think that films like Breach (and Ray and Calendar Girls and… what are the others I’ve complained of?) tend to be limited by the truth, which is good and bad. But there are so many successful adaptations of true stories to film (my all-time favorite example being All the President’s Men) that I think this is usually a problem of writing and imagination in creation. There are so many ways in which a director and a cinematographer can influence the appearance of a film and change the tension without changing the story — I may seem to be treading on thin ice by suggesting things should be changed, played up or down by inclusion, etc., but the point of films like these seems to be to tell a satisfying and entertaining story. If the point was to show exactly what happened, it’d be a documentary.And I also saw Heights, via Blockbuster DVD. Essentially it’s a New Yorkers’ lives collide in “surprising” ways film, where everyone ends up being connected to everyone by the end. But… it’s not the traditional “here are seven strangers” set up for it. Everyone pretty much knows everyone at the beginning; they just haven’t figured out how, and by the end of the day all of the relationships have changed dramatically. Glenn Close was good, playing a famous actress (what a fascinating challenge for a famous actress), and I thought both James Marsden and Elizabeth Banks did great work as a couple about to get married despite both having serious doubts (to say more is to ruin the surprises). And I think this may have originally come to my attention during last year’s Rufus Wainwright phase, as he makes an appearance in the film.

I also found a new program in which to write: Scrivener, available only for Macs. It’s beautiful. I’ve talked before about how I enjoy Jer’s Novel Writer, and I do still think its character database function is useful, BUT this program blows it out of the water. There’s a half-hour tutorial for it and with every new feature, I went, OH GOD YES. For instance: the ability to combine sections/documents/chapters on the fly, in any order, so you could line up all of the pages that have a certain character on them and compare. And there’s a built in research folder for each project that lets you keep and view multimedia files (sound, video, web, .pdf) while you’re working. And a full screen mode that blocks all distractions. And it’s essentially out of beta testing and quite stable, which is slightly more than I could say for JNW. And and and. I love this and will end up buying it at the end of 30 days.

That’s about it.

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3 Responses to Weekend media wrap-up

  1. therealjae says:

    Have you seen “Shattered Glass”? It’s another true story brought to film by the very same director as “Breach”–and I found it extraordinary. I’d love to hear from you whether you agree, or whether you think it’s similarly flawed.

    -J

  2. kepkanation says:

    I haven’t seen Shattered Glass, though I briefly owned it (rented it through Netflix, promptly lost it and paid for it, found it and sent it back for refund). I’ll add it to my list, though, as I remember being fascinated by the subject matter early on and the director connection and your recommendation make it even more intriguing to me.

  3. simplelyric says:

    Despite my feeling that Chris Cooper’s talent is often quite underrated, I don’t have much interest in Breach. All the previews I’ve seen have just kind of made me go, ‘Meh, haven’t I seen that movie already?’

    I did like Heights. Similar things have been done before in that case, too, but I got interested in the characters and their potential for growth.

    Scrivener and other programs of its ilk sound very cool. I think, though, that they’d be the kind of thing over which I oohed and ahhed and then of which I never really made good use (particularly when it came to the bells and whistles). But it seems like you’ll have fun with it and use the functions, which is what matters. =)

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